Keith Whitley Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Wife

Keith Whitley Net Worth

Keith Whitley had an estimated net worth of $2 million at death. Keith Whitley was a country music singer from the United States who was destined to become Nashville’s biggest country star. The ‘Chicago Tribune’ called his neotraditional music “the most soulful of all country music.” During his lifetime, he earned millions of dollars from his concerts and albums. 

Whitley’s music stood out from the pretentious urban country music that was apparently popular at the time. His were the songs of a lonely traveler on a long, winding country road in the southern mountains.

His was true honky-tonk music, authentic and well-known among musicians at the time, particularly among his peers. Ronan Keating’s rendition of ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ is well known to the modern generation. It was, however, a rendition of Whitley’s original from the album ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes,’ which had topped the charts in 1988. Whitley died of alcohol poisoning just as his popularity was beginning to soar.

He was 33 years old when he died. Lorrie Morgan, Whitley’s wife, wrote in her autobiography, “Keith Whitley is a legend now: Extremely talented mountain man who drank himself to death.”

Whitley, she claims, was underappreciated as an artist while he was still alive. His legacy may have been recognized posthumously, but the influence of his country music style is felt everywhere.

To calculate Keith Whitley’s net worth, add up all of his assets and subtract his debts, also known as liabilities.

Keith Whitley’s assets include everything he owns, such as the amount of money in his checking or savings account, real estate equity, savings and investment plans, and items with a clear market value (car, jewelry, clothes, art, etc.).

All outstanding debts, including the remaining balance on his home, car, business or personal loan, credit card debt, back taxes, and anything else he still owes, are included in his liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Keith Whitley
Net Worth: $2 Million
Monthly Salary: $40 Thousand
Annual Income: $1 Millinon
Source of Wealth: Singer-songwriter

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Early Life

Jackie Keith Whitley was born in Ashland, Kentucky on July 1, 1955. The Whitleys relocated to Sandy Hook, where Elmer Whitley, the young Whitley’s father, worked as an electrician. Faye, his mother, assisted in the publication of Elliott County’s weekly newspaper.

Randy, Dwight, and Keith Whitley lived a reckless life as children. They had a sister named Mary as well. It was common practice to drink and drive. Whitley, then 13, drove off a bridge in Elliott County and fell nearly 100 feet into a river. He escaped unharmed, save for a broken collar bone. The paramedics rescued him.

Whitley inherited his musical ability from his mother’s family. At square dances, his maternal grandfather played the banjo, and his mother also dabbled in music. She recognized the artist in Whitley when he was only two years old. Whitley was winning Elliot County talent shows at the age of eight, singing Marty Robbins’ “Big Iron.”

Whitley was a motorcycle enthusiast. He received his first one at a young age. It was a custom-built 1962 ‘Harley.’ His passion for music, however, was greater. Whitley sold his prized possession to fund his relocation from Elliot County to Nashville, where he launched his solo career.


Whitley formed his first bluegrass garage band when he was 13 years old. In 1969, he met Ricky Skaggs at a musical contest in Ezel, Kentucky. The musical duo quickly formed a new band called ‘Lonesome Mountain Boys,’ which primarily performed songs by ‘The Stanley Brothers.’ Ralph Stanley happened to hear them playing at a club in Ft. Gay, West Virginia, and was astounded by how uncannily similar Whitley and Skaggs sounded.

Ralph Stanley was looking to reassemble his band after the death of his brother and musical partner, Carter. Whitley and Skaggs were the ideal choice, and the ‘Clinch Mountain Boys’ were born. They released seven albums, including ‘Crying from the Cross,’ the bluegrass album of the year in 1971.

Whitley left the band in 1973 to pursue his talent with other bands. Whitley rejoined the ‘Clinch Mountain Boys’ as lead singer after a two-year hiatus. In 1978, after five more albums, he joined JD Crowe’s band ‘New South.’ Their sound ranged from bluegrass to country. They made three albums. Whitley quickly established himself as one of the most versatile singers of his generation.

Whitley left the ‘New South’ in 1982 and began his solo career in Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee, which was the center of country music at the time. He signed a contract with RCA Records.

Whitley’s first solo album, ‘A Hard Act to Follow,’ was released in 1984, and it was his first mainstream honky-tonk album. It was not well received by critics. Whitley’s debut album suffered from inconsistencies because he had yet to develop an identifiable style.

He was quick to correct his mistakes, which resulted in his 1986 album, ‘L.A. to Miami.’ ‘Miami, My Amy,’ his first charting song, appeared on the album. The album’s success was followed by three more singles: ‘Ten Feet Away,’ ‘Homecoming ’63,’ and ‘Hard Livin,’ all of which reached the top ten.

Despite ‘L.A. to Miami’s’ success, Whitley remained depressed as an artist because he was dissatisfied with the music he was producing. He felt his music was too polished and sophisticated, so he begged RCA to cancel a 15-song album. He became heavily involved in the production and created his iconic album ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ (1988). ‘I’m No Stranger to the Rain,’ ‘When You Say Nothing at All,’ and the title track, ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes,’ all charted at number one. The songs topped the country charts on Billboard. Whitley’s only Country Music Association award came as a solo performer for ‘I’m No Stranger to the Rain.’

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Posthumous Career

On August 1, 1989, his fourth and final album, ‘I Wonder Do You Think of Me,’ was released three months after his untimely death. ‘It Ain’t Nothin’ and ‘I’m Over You’ were both number one hits from the album.

Lorrie Morgan, Whitley’s wife, who owned the rights and creative control over his works, added two singles to the ‘Greatest Hits’ album. Whitley recorded ‘Tell Lorrie I Love Her’ at home as a work tape for his friend Curtis. The song was meant to be performed at their wedding. Til a Tear Becomes a Rose,’ the second song, was originally recorded as a demo with Skaggs’ harmony. Lorrie, on the other hand, re-recorded it with her vocals alongside her late husband’s. In 1990, it won a ‘CMA’ for best vocal collaboration and was nominated for a ‘Grammy’ in the same category.

Whitley’s wife continued to release demos and tributes in memory of this great artist over the next few years. ‘Keith Whitley: A Tribute Album,’ released in 1994, featured cover songs by legends such as Alan Jackson, Diamond Rio, and Ricky Skaggs. Whitley’s previously unreleased songs were also included. In 1995, an album based on restored demos from 1986 to 1988 was released under the title ‘Wherever You Are Tonight.’

Personal Life & Wife

Lorrie Morgan and Keith Whitley were both married when they met in early 1986. Morgan had divorced her previous husband and was living with her mother and her daughter.

Whitley asked Morgan out on a date after a few chance meetings, explaining in advance that he had gone through a divorce since their last meeting. It only took a few months for the couple to decide to live together forever, and they married in November 1986.

Whitley died on May 9, 1989, of alcohol poisoning. Palmer, his brother-in-law, had planned a day of golf and lunch with the singer. Palmer found Whitley face down on his bed when he arrived.

The Whitleys had already suffered the tragedy of Randy’s death in 1983. Whitley was visibly upset as he spoke about his older brother. In her book, Lorrie Morgan mentioned that Whitey once said Randy was the best of the bunch.

Dean Dillon, Lorrie Morgan’s friend and songwriter, suggested Whitley’s hit song “Miami, My Amy” to her.

‘On the Other Hand,’ by Randy Travis, and ‘Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her,’ by George Straits were originally planned for Whitley’s second album, ‘L.A. to Miami.’

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